• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

    ★★★★

    The secret masterpiece of the Harry Potter series. Opens on a closeup shot of Bill Nighy scowling and then transitions into a staggering montage with Desplat giving the material a real sense of epic grandeur and sweeping emotion, and then goes from there. This one feels especially confident out of the gate, and pretty much kicks ass from start to finish. I really admire how it commits to the camping trip section of the book, and the lack of Hogwarts…

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    ★★★★

    “He’s just a boy.”

    I've always really liked this one, and I think it does a great job of taking what worked in the novel and changing what was necessary for it to really succeed. The book is slow, and goes back and forth between being a retrospective about the origin of evil, and an awkward high school romance. It's not exceptionally cinematic material, and the film doubles down on the book's deliberate pace and gives us the quietest installment…

  • Top Gun: Maverick

    Top Gun: Maverick

    ★★★★

    Wow! This may be Mission Impossible 6.5 and Tom Cruise 45 as much as it is Top Gun 2, but I think it's a really fitting follow-up to the first in the way that this is just as much a product of its time as the original. Formally, tonally, aesthetically, this absolutely fits into the current canon of semi auteur-driven blockbusters from guys like Nolan, Reeves, Villenueve, McQuarrie, and Mangold, that rise above the typical Marvel/DC/streaming stuff. And in place…

  • Top Gun

    Top Gun

    ★★★★

    This seems to be taken as a joke by a lot of people, who see it as a dated artifact of the 80s with bad politics and tiring melodrama, but I was really taken by this. I think what makes it work so well is that Tony totally plays it straight (no pun intended) and goes all in on the coastal sunset vibes and repressed yearning. Some really beautiful drama interspersed with the mostly solid aerial sequences. Love how thoroughly…

  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    ★★★★

    Vince Gilligan and Marshall Adams shooting in Scope? You love to see it.

  • Shrek 2

    Shrek 2

    ★★★★½

    “Are you feeling at all degraded or oppressed?”
    “A little. We don't even have dental
    .”

    Whatever movie you think is best, this is better.

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    ★★★★

    “After all these years, after all you’ve suffered, I didn’t want to cause you any more pain. I cared too much about you.”

    Oh this is just so good. Easily the most underrated film in the series. It goes without saying that the longest book getting adapted into the shortest movie is kind of ridiculous, and to a large portion of the fandom (and most book-based fandoms in general, ugh) cutting this amount of material is unforgiveable. But to me,…

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    ★★★½

    “Personally, I’ve never had much time for heroes.”

    Interesting to watch this again after reading the book for the first time since childhood. As both a film and an adaptation of the book, this one is a lot weaker than I remembered, and whereas the previous film’s script actually improved on the book in numerous ways, this one struggles with the massive weight of the source material, resulting in awkward tonal shifts and a ton of things left unexplained and…

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    ★★★★½

    “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

    Absolutely dazzling, and the high point of a film series that feels more and more like lightning in a bottle the further away from it we get. This one is so important in the way it pushed the series to a more emotionally mature place, and it's a perfect example of how to do a novel adaptation right. The first two…

  • West Side Story

    West Side Story

    ★★★★★

    “Life is even more important than love.”
    “They're the same thing.”

    Such a stunning experience to watch a movie that feels like it was the movie a director was put on earth to make. You could say that about countless other Spielberg movies that have defined our collective consciousness as moviegoers and continuously raised the standard of filmmaking in mainstream American cinema. And it's not like this is even his best film. But in many ways, it feels like the…

  • The Master

    The Master

    ★★★★½

    PTA, PSH, Phoenix, Greenwood, etc. Just a bunch of generational talents in almost every discipline doing career best work. Simply unreal stuff.

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    ★★★½

    “Spooky how the time flies when one’s having fun.”

    It says a lot about the overall standard of quality in this series that this is the lowest rated instalment. It’s definitely the weak link of the first three, but it pretty much does hold its own compared to the two films before and after it, which is no small feat, especially given the ridiculously tight schedule that Chris Columbus had to work with on this one. There’s lots of great…